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Marriage saved, faith restored at Operation Heal Our Patriots

August 23, 2017
Marriage saved, faith restored at Operation Heal Our Patriots

A couple from Ontario experienced a miraculous restoration of both their faith and marriage at Operation Heal Our Patriots.

One careless act during a camping trip sent Ross Thistle into weeks of turmoil and years of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Ross, and his wife, Lisa Millar, were asleep in their tent during the trip when someone threw an aerosol can into their fire pit, causing an explosion and fire and sparking Ross’s PTSD symptoms of anger, anxiety, and paranoia.

“To say it was like a scene from a movie would be an understatement”

Ross is a warrant officer in the Canadian Air Force, and Lisa, a captain, has been serving in the Canadian Army Reserve since 1991. The couple from Trenton, ON, spent a week in Port Alsworth, Alaska, in 2016 with Operation Heal Our Patriots, for wounded military veterans and their spouses. Donations from people like you make this ministry possible.

During the week in Alaska, couples strengthen their marriages through outdoor activities and Biblically-based marriage counselling.

Ross has travelled extensively during his military career, including tours in Yugoslavia in 1992 and Afghanistan in 2005. While he returned from each trip physically unharmed, he carried undiagnosed symptoms of PTSD.

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It was early in their relationship that Lisa recognized Ross’s condition. “She said ‘I think you have a problem,’ but I was in denial. I thought I was fine,” Ross says.

In Afghanistan, Ross was a traffic technician, responsible for the transport of troops and vehicles. In this role, he faced the almost daily threat of suicide bombers with explosives who drove aggressively through traffic to get as close as possible to Ross’s convoy.

While he survived these threats, Ross hasn’t been able to shake the memories, and so he has come close to attacking aggressive drivers in Canada who he sees as a threat.

Ross feared his aggressive behavior, and inability to control it, would destroy their marriage. He’s grateful for the opportunity he and Lisa had to reconnect through Operation Heal Our Patriots.

While Ross was receiving counselling and therapy before participating in Operation Heal Our Patriots, the couple knew they needed more to restore their relationship.

“I’ve learned this week that, our situation isn’t unique.” says Lisa. “It has helped so much to be with others who have struggled with looking at their spouse and saying ‘I love you—I just don’t like you,’ which makes you feel terrible. There has been a tremendous amount
of guilt lifted here.”

On top of strengthening their marriage, Ross and Lisa also connected with God in a new way during their time in Alaska.

The couple said the love and support they received from staff and volunteers at Samaritan Lodge showed them the compassion of God.

Both committed their lives to Christ and were among the 13 Canadians baptized in Lake Clark, where the lodge is located.

“I feel like I’ve taken the blinders off, and I see Him now.”

“While I’ve been here, it’s like God was kicking me in the butt, saying ‘Listen up, because I’ve been trying to talk to you,’” says Ross. “And He told me ‘look at the beauty I’ve given you. Look where I’ve brought you.’ It’s not by chance I’m here, it’s for a reason. I feel like I’ve taken the blinders off, and I see Him now.”